One of the greatest statements of love in the Bible comes from the one dubbed the “doubter.” True to his nature, Thomas has reached the point of utter despair in the power and purpose of Jesus. He looks forward and sees nothing but the cross and a closed tomb. The only thing to crown the head of Jesus in Thomas’ mind are thorns. The vital vision of Christ’s kingdom has long since faded from his view, and is now replaced by the solemn shroud. To Thomas there is nothing left in the ministry of Jesus but to go forth and die.
Then comes something completely remarkable and totally unexpected. It is at this lowest point of utter despair that Thomas declares his highest love for His Lord. It doesn’t matter that Jesus’s robes are removed, His crown is taken or His throne empty, Thomas loves Him still. Though the hosannas have long since hushed, the palm branches have withered and died, and the crowds have left to follow another, Thomas’ heart still beats for Jesus. His love was never higher than it was when his faith had descended to its lowest.
No doubt there are those who have given their life to a Jesus that they believed to be King of all kings and Lord above all lords. Yet, here is a man who gave himself to a Christ whose kingdom had vanished from sight and whose lordship he no longer trusted. Thomas was a man who was willing to go with Jesus to Golgotha even though he had lost his faith in the empty tomb. He was willing to take the broken pieces of the alabaster box, the manger minus its star, the babe without His heavenly host and the cross without the crown. He was willing to come to Jesus in the desert even though there are no angels there to minister to Him. He sought the Son of Man in Gethsemane even though there are no seraphs there to strengthen Him. He was willing to sit with His Lord at the Last Supper even if there hadn’t been the promise of a Marriage Supper. Here is one who loves Jesus so much that he’d rather have Jesus in death than all of the world in eternal life. So, he says, “Let’s go and die with Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul says that hope and love abide together, and no doubt this is true. Yet, there are those times upon this earth when love must live alone. Just as in this example from the life of Thomas, there will be times when hope leaves love. In those days of doubt and scepticism you may feel like God has forsaken you, but soon enough you will discover that those days were actually sent by Him.
There is actually something special and wonderful about the days in which love must stand alone. There are songs that can only be sung in the night – and these are the most beautiful songs of all. Even though they are sung by the waters of Babylon, these songs speak of the One who is altogether lovely. Though you may have lost sight of His kingdom, power and glory, and no longer see angels sitting atop His tombstone, or hear an angel’s voice say, “He is not here,” there is still love in your heart and spices in your hands.
You see, I believe that this verse demonstrates that love is at it’s highest when Pilate has disrobed Him, men have gambled for His garment, the disciples have fled and the stone is rolled and still sealed. Love is greatest when all of these things have happened and there is still this cry in your heart, “I’d rather die with Jesus than to live with Ceasar.”